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Movie Review: Jane Eyre (2011)

*There will be spoilers. This story is over a 100 years old but still, just in case… 

Let me fully explain upfront my knowledge of Jane Eyre before going into this film. I had seen part of an older adaptation (I could not tell you about who was in it or anything like that) many years ago, and I knew that Rochester was already married to a crazy lady, and I knew Jane went back to him in the end. (I forgot about him being blind until the end of this movie, then I remembered from before. Nothing else in between or from before the wedding rang a bell for me.) I also went into this movie knowing it was not some happy, sweet Jane Austen thing. I expected it to be a little depressing. It was a beautifully shot film and all the actors/actresses were great. But something left me wanting in the end.

jane_eyreFor someone who had not read the book, this movie feels ridiculously underdeveloped. It feels like it takes approximately two weeks (I know it’s longer) for Jane and Rochester to fall in love with each other, and they have like zero chemistry beforehand. The second they kiss they look happy, but before then there’s nothing, not even tension. What does Rochester see in Jane? Someone different and who speaks her mind? That was all I could gather. But really I want to know what Jane sees in Rochester. Uh, a dude? I have no clue. Aside from looking like Michael Fassbender (though not the best version of him), I’d say he really had nothing going for him. Especially when you watch the deleted scenes (or read the book, I imagine) and learn about his previous mistresses. I mean, dude is just not faithful. And I found him a little creepy. So… no.

Oh, and up until Rivers basically said, “Stop being silly and marry me already, you’ll like me eventually,” I was completely shipping him and Jane even though I totally knew that was going to crash and burn.

But I’m such a nice guy…

In two hours, I felt I got a pretty good grasp on Jane, which is good. The backstory was sad but intriguing and the non-linear narrative I think mostly worked for the film. The parts with Rochester felt so brief and so not-at-all romantic though that the whole romance just feel extremely flat, even in the end when Rochester is redeemed (though I did finally feel a little bad for him at that point, because he did actually try to save everyone from the fire and ended up blind).

I was just never convinced that either of them really loved the other. At all. She was like, “Oh, a boy!” and he was like, “Hey, I can manipulate this chick.”

So I need to know from fans of the book (Charlene and Alisa, for starters), is their relationship way better in the book? Is it better developed? Do you actually root for them? Does Rochester seem like less of  a jerk, or at least start to become slightly less of one and become more likable throughout?

I’m also curious how creepy the book is, based on deleted scenes that I think put a bad aftertaste in my mouth, and may have even affected my overall rating for it, though I know it shouldn’t. There are two or three scenes not included in the movie where Jane’s dead childhood friend shows up. And I’m not a fan of paranormal or ghosts, not because I think they’re scary, I just don’t care for it. I thought the movie felt haunting enough without adding that, which is why I suppose they didn’t, but is this a theme in the book? Because I’m not interested in ghost stories.

jane-eyreThe craft of the film and the cast are spot-on, but the story felt underdeveloped and left much to be desired for me. For these reasons, this gets a 3-star rating from me.

3stars2If you’re a Jane Eyre fan, tell me what I missed from this movie!